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From Andrew Jaquith <>
Subject Re: author-tags Was: Trunk is now open for 2.8 stuff.
Date Mon, 31 Mar 2008 19:26:26 GMT
If "what's an author?" is the only issue we need to settle, that's  
pretty easy.

An "author," it seems to me, is the person (or person) who did the  
preponderance of the work initially, or as part of an enhancement. By  
"the work," I mean the conception, design, coding, test-case writing  
and debugging. That rules out bug-fixing, unless the bug was so gnarly  
that it necessitated a gut-rewrite or major refactoring. It also rules  
out Javadoc tweaks.

For example: I did a bunch of re-writing on MailUtil about 6 months  
ago that added JNDI features, completely re-factored the main  
processing methods, and added several private functions. I changed,  
touched, and re-wrote 80% of the code. For that reason, I added myself  
as an author.

But just as you have, I've also touched many many classes to fix bug  
here and there. I can't think of a single case where it seemed  
appropriate to add myself as an author.

Thus: if you design, write/enhance code, and write unit tests, you  
might be an author. If you fix a bug, you probably aren't.


On Mar 31, 2008, at 2:58 PM, Janne Jalkanen wrote:
> But again, how to treat patch contributions?  Whoever applies the  
> patch decides whether to take in the @author-tags?  Where do we draw  
> a line if someone sends on a three-line patch, one of which is the  
> @author?
> Apache is a high-profile society, and people will want to have their  
> name associated with it.
> /Janne
> On 31 Mar 2008, at 21:33, Andrew Jaquith wrote:
>> Folks,
>> The changes we're talking about beg the question: "what's the  
>> problem we are trying to solve?"
>> In an earlier e-mail, I noted that the "we need to do what Apache  
>> does" argument is bogus because Apache projects DO use @author  
>> tags... or putting it another way, they don't remove them  
>> consistently. I'm happy to furnish dozens, if not hundreds, of  
>> examples of @author tags in the Tomcat  project if you need further  
>> convincing.
>> Equally bogus is the "the authors might get sued if we leave them  
>> in" argument, because it ignores the reality of how modern e- 
>> discovery is done. There are lots of ways to find people to sue,  
>> for example trolling through the jspwiki-dev mailing list.
>> The "we are a community so we have to release community projects  
>> without attribution" reason is NOT bogus, but it IS mighty  
>> presumptive. I joined the JSPWiki dev team to have fun and make a  
>> personal difference, not because I wanted to be part of Apache PER  
>> SE (though I like that too).
>> Here's the bottom line. There are two geniune, defensible reasons  
>> for keeping @author tags in the code:
>> - Personal attribution/pride
>> - Helping to establish expertise ("archaeology") for fixes, in  
>> combination with commit tags
>> There are also two geniune, defensible reasons to remove them:
>> - When lineage of authorship is diffuse, or uncertain
>> - When an author does not want to attract unwanted e-mails about  
>> the code
>> I seems to me that these reasons all point to personal decisions,  
>> and should be made at time of commit. So I agree with Harry. I  
>> don't think this is something we should legislate. The list of  
>> authors is quite small, and the committers even smaller. It seems  
>> to me a laissez-faire policy would work best.
>> Andrew
>> On Mar 31, 2008, at 2:00 PM, Dave Wolf wrote:
>>> IMHO, if the rest of Apache projects don't use the author tags  
>>> (whether it
>>> is enforced or not), then for consistency we shouldn't either. It  
>>> would be
>>> confusing to new folks.
>>> Additionally, (again opinion) an open source project should not be  
>>> tied to
>>> individuals, so I agree with Janne that questions should go to the  
>>> lists. If
>>> someone who has knowledge is still active then they can respond.  
>>> If the
>>> author / knowledgeable person is no longer active, then the  
>>> absence of a
>>> response might be informative to the wider community.
>>> Dave
>>> On Mon, Mar 31, 2008 at 11:50 AM, Harry Metske < 
>>> >
>>> wrote:
>>>> I think we shouldn't dictate right now, how to deal with those  
>>>> conflicting
>>>> situations.
>>>> Is it very likely to occur ?
>>>> If it's not strictly necessary to make the choice now, I think we  
>>>> should
>>>> let
>>>> it free.
>>>> But if anyone else on the list has a good reason to choose for an  
>>>> all-on
>>>> or
>>>> all-off, please speak up.
>>>> regards,
>>>> Harry
>>>> 2008/3/31, Janne Jalkanen <>:
>>>>> Then what do we do with new people if some of them insist to  
>>>>> have the
>>>>> @author tag and some don't?
>>>>> /Janne
>>>>> On 31 Mar 2008, at 19:58, Harry Metske wrote:
>>>>>> Although I'm not a committer I'd like to comment :
>>>>>> I think both of you are right, there is code that is submitted
>>>>>> initially
>>>>>> fairly complete, and is not patched much afterwards, and if it is
>>>>>> patched,
>>>>>> it is only small bug fixes. In those cases you would want to  
>>>>>> keep the
>>>>>> @author tags.
>>>>>> On the other hand there is code that is initially submitted as a
>>>>>> simple
>>>>>> first prototype, and is afterwards greatly enhance by others. In
>>>>>> those cases
>>>>>> you should remove the @author tags.
>>>>>> If it is not exactly mandated by ASF how to deal with, let  
>>>>>> everyone
>>>>>> decide
>>>>>> for himself how to handle it, and you don't have to handle every
>>>>>> piece of
>>>>>> code the same, for some pieces keep your @author tag, for others
>>>>>> remove them
>>>>>> ?
>>>>>> How about that, everybody happy ?
>>>>>> regards,
>>>>>> Harry
>>>>>> 2008/3/31, Janne Jalkanen <>:
>>>>>>>>> Case in point: The author of LuceneSearchProvider has
>>>>>>>>> contributed anything in what, two years?  Yet he still
>>>>>>>>> stands in
>>>>>>>>> as the @author.  Would you go to him to ask for help,
>>>>>>>>> should
>>>>>>>>> you go to the mailing list?
>>>>>>>> I'd ask the list, but I would likewise *know* that the author
>>>>>>>> hasn't
>>>>>>>> been seen for two years, information that would be lost if
>>>>>>>> tag had
>>>>>>>> been removed.
>>>>>>> The @author tag does not encode that information.  Therefore,
>>>>>>> nothing
>>>>>>> would be lost, if it were removed (and it might probably be a
>>>>>>> good
>>>>>>> idea to remove it at that stage).
>>>>>>> The code should really stand on its own legs.
>>>>>>>> You're saying you have your name on code you don't understand?
>>>>>>> Yes.  Other people have modified code for which I am still the
>>>>>>> @author, and I can't really claim that I know what that code
>>>>>>> does
>>>>>>> anymore...  And I'm pretty sure I have modified a lot of the
>>>>>>> code
>>>>>>> that other people claim to be @author of, and they no longer
>>>>>>> have any
>>>>>>> idea what is going on.
>>>>>>> That's how it goes with projects that have been running for 

>>>>>>> nearly
>>>>>>> seven years now.
>>>>>>> /Janne
>>>>>> --
>>>>>> met vriendelijke groet,
>>>>>> Harry Metske
>>>>>> Telnr. +31-548-512395
>>>>>> Mobile +31-6-51898081
>>>> --
>>>> met vriendelijke groet,
>>>> Harry Metske
>>>> Telnr. +31-548-512395
>>>> Mobile +31-6-51898081
>>> -- 
>>> Dave Wolf
>>> H: 303-377-9537
>>> M: 303-956-9106
>>> Donate to VoteVets
>>> "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that  
>>> matter."
>>> --Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

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